Snowballs in Late Spring – Wordless Wednesday

Yes, we have snowballs in late spring.

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I refer to this as a snowball tree, but it’s technically called Viburnum Opulus.

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I look forward to seeing it blossom every spring. It only stays in bloom for a short time.

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Enjoy your Wednesday.

Flowers for Mama – Wordless Wednesday

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When the Explorer, 6, returned from recess, he carried with him a surprise for me.  He presented me with a bouquet of fragrant wildflowers he’d picked from our yard. 😉

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“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

Building Flower Gardens

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For several years I pretended not to notice it.  I’d drive by and keep my gaze firmly in front of me.  Except when I did notice, I’d tell myself that grass would grow over it.  Except that grass only grew over parts of it, and the remaining open areas would be engulfed with weeds.  Weeds, weeds and more weeds.

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There’d been a flower bed in the same location many years ago when the previous owners lived here.  But it had not been taken care of for awhile and one of its borders was not well defined.  Sadly, most of the time it sat forgotten and abandoned with its only guests being some bright yellow dandelions.

Fortunately the warm spring temperatures have a motivational effect on me, and I develop these wild bursts of energy to start involved projects.  And come up with a plan I did: I decided to build a new flower garden in the very spot where one once stood. But I did not have to embark upon my plan alone.  My 14 year old daughter stood ready and willing to help me accomplish a blossoming goal, and together we built our first flower garden.

To begin, we found shovels from the garage and began digging up walls of weeds.  In what was the most difficult part, we pulled out the weeds and turned over the remaining dirt across the rectangular space.  In the front sat a pretty green shrub that was part of the original flower garden. We decided that it should stay.  To give the garden a well defined northern border, I dug up a trench.  Up to this point we’d spent a few hours working, and it was exhausting using muscles I’d forgotten about.  As I sit and write this, I feel soreness in my arms and aches in my back.

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Preferring to plant only hardy types, we next brought down a wagon full of perennial flowers to adorn our garden.

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After thinking about color for awhile, we set the flowers upon the freshly dug up dirt to decide placement.  Included were a rainbow of vibrant colors: lilies of hot pink, golden yellow, and tiger orange; blue hydrangea; purple iris; hostas; and few other interesting looking plants whose names escape me.

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Next I read the directions and prepared to give the lively plants a home.  I dug holes and my daughter filled each hole with about one inch of water.  Then I placed each in its spot and firmly packed the holes with dirt.  This part went surprisingly fast.

To give the garden a more decorative look, my daughter and I traveled to our local hardware store and found some arched maroon brick.  We’d measured the length of the side of the bed using my quilting tape to get an estimate on how many bricks to buy.  Then I had to redefine my ditch to make the bricks lay as level and straight as possible.

Lastly, we covered the new flower bed with a generous quilt of red mulch to help prevent new weeds from forming.  Certainly the weeds will be returning, I just hope this mulch will decrease the amount I’ll need to pull.

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After working for about six hours, we were done.  Now we both knew how to design a flower bed.  And we could behold the view!

What could’ve been an overwhelming job was made pleasantly simple with my daughter’s presence.  She was cheerful and supportive, and we had ample time to visit.  We’d spent our day together working towards a shared goal.

And as I see it we built more than a flower garden, we also built happy memories.

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Nutrition Nudge


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As the warm spring wind blows away winter’s cold, I’ve decided to make some changes around here.

Throughout our day we usually have two snack sessions: the first at about 10 a.m., and the second around 3 p.m.  As you can imagine, we get our share of processed foods.  For example, we usually have granola bars, pretzels, and any number of crackers plentiful in the cupboard.  Though I have no problem with our eating of snacks, I do think we eat too many processed foods during these times.

My children do like fruit. But too often, in the rush of our busy days, crackers or pretzels are what they go for. And the lonely fruit sits and rots, forgotten in the deep dark fridge.

I’ve come up with a possible solution: I’ve decided to make our 10 a.m. morning snack be a fruit snack.  I’m not talking about fruit juice or items that contain fruit ingredients, I’m talking about eating actual fruit – bananas, oranges, grapes, apples, etc.  Just simple, refreshing real fruit.

How am I going to get my children to go along with it?  Well, not in a extreme, pushy way.

In addition to suggesting a morning fruit snack, my plan is to set out freshly washed fruit around 9:45 a.m. With shiny fruit smiling at them in a bright, colorful bowl, what’s to stop them?

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If that doesn’t work, then I’ll move on to plan B – which will be to tell them they have to eat a piece of fruit sometime before they go to bed.  They may just take the fruit early, and get it over with.

For us, I think this is a change worth making.  Imagine how much of a positive impact it could have on their growth and development if they add in another piece of fruit each day over time.  My goal is to gently and welcomingly develop better eating habits in them.  Morning snack time seems like a great time to make sure fruit is included in their day. If I’m lucky, they may even carry the habit into adulthood.

 And do you know what I’ve noticed?  They often watch me to see what I’m snacking on.  Yes, I’ll be joining them in the morning fruit snack.  No excuses for me, either. 😉

How do you encourage healthier eating habits in your family?

Paper Tie – Wordless Wednesday

What’s a child to do when he finishes his lessons early?  Perhaps design a tie by folding, coloring, and taping the paper art to his shirt?

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And the reverse must be a different pattern…

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Created by the now ‘Sharp Dressed Explorer’, 6. 😉

Wordless Wednesday – Hungry Hummingbird

I was fortunate to capture this image of a hummingbird last summer.  These tiny creatures are not that easy to photograph; they move quickly.  I took many photos in a row without pausing, hoping that one of them would turn out.  And one did.

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Hummingbird at Feeder

Fabric Art: North Woods Quilt Quest

There is an artistic side of me seeking to be remembered by the other side of me.  You know, the busy side.  Beyond the many responsibilites I have, I want to carve some time out of my day to be creative.  And so that is just what I’m doing.

I took advantage of some free time over the holiday break, and I’ve begun my lastest fabric art project.  Ever since I finished the Explorer’s Colorful Cars  quilt in November, I’ve been planning in my mind.  This will be the first of several posts regarding the North Woods quilt I’m making for the Architect, 8.  You’re welcome to follow along with me during my journey to develop this quilt [and remember my artful side] through both its trials, and hopefully, eventual success.

Design Decisions:

My son loves all things outdoors like trees, moose, bears and cabins.  I was inspired by several North Woods quilt patterns I’d seen over the years, and I’ll put them all together into a design for this twin-sized quilt.

About 8 years ago I designed this baby quilt for him, also North Woods themed.

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North Woods Baby Quilt, 2005

I prefer hand-quilted quilts, and some of my favorite quilts are those made by the Amish.   I enjoy browsing at Amish Country Lanes, and I am a big fan of their applique quilts.  The care taken in every stitch by these ladies really shows.  (I admit that the quilts I make are not quite as carefully quilted. ;))

Similar to the Amish, I also construct my larger quilts with a pillow fold, where you fold back the head of the quilt to tuck the pillow in.  Though this may add an extra 11 to 16 inches to the quilt top, I don’t mind.  Then I don’t have to make accompanying shams.

Fabric Finding:

My son and I recently made a trip to the local quilt store.  I’m fortunate to live about two miles from the coolest quilt store in the state!  Really.  The selection in this store is amazing.  We wandered around a bit, but were soon drawn to the fall colored woodsy-themed patterns.  The owner came over and helped us with choosing between a few different reds, and I was impressed with her knowledge.  For example, she advised against a lined fabric, because she said it’d be more difficult to line up the lines when piecing.  She also special ordered for us some soft fabric backing to make the quilt especially warm.  The colors of this quilt will be mostly greens, browns, and a little orange and red.

Preparing the Fabric:

I always wash my fabric before using to shrink it right away and test for color bleeding.  I just throw it in with some gentle deteregent and take it out when it’s a little damp to iron it to prepare for cutting.

Cutting With Care:

This quilt will be a combination of both machine piecing and hand applique.  Machine piecing is relatively simple, IF you are careful with cutting and 1/4″ sewing.  I fold the fabric, line up the ends, fold once more, and then I cut.  A wise person once said to measure twice, cut once.  Speaking from personal experience, I’ll tell you that that’s great advice.

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Strip cutting

Here are some of the items that I’ve found useful for cutting, especially the pizza cutter looking thing (a rotary cutter).

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Border fabric

I cut for a for about an hour or so, of course with a little music playing in the background.

There.  That’s more like it.  All done with my cutting.

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Fabric to be used box

 This is a good place to pause for now.

The next step is to start constructing the lower section.  I start at the bottom of the quilt to allow time to refamiliarize myself (make mistakes in a less noticable place) with what’s next: hand applique.  It’s the hard part.  Hand appliquing trees with inner and outer curves can be tricky, and you can bet that I’ll have to remove my threads and start again at least once.😉

Please send your prayers or positive thoughts my way for this next step.  Thanks!